Italian food is among the most popular in the world. And why not? Itís good for you and it tastes great! Of course Italians know this first hand. But Italians share their passion for great food with so many other ethnicities. So maybe there is an Italian leaf or two on the old family tree, even if it is not rooted in Italy! Read on to see if you fit the Italian mold.
In recent years, and in many different cuisines, there has been a decided trend to homey, almost peasant style cooking. Honest cooking! This is not the cooking that comes without the small, cute portions and fancy garnishes. It is simple and fresh. It provides the chance to taste the food for what it really is, simple and delicious. Cooking that comes from the heart! Home style cooking has been rediscovered by famous chefs. Mama knew it all along. Make it fresh, use the best ingredients, let the love flow through and let the food be the focus of the meal. At Holy Rosaryís Festa! that has been the standard for 50 years!
When asked why the Holy Rosary Festival has enjoyed so much success for 50 years, it took the festival chairman just about a blink of an eye to answer. ďItís the foodĒ, he said. ďAmong festivals we are unique here at Holy Rosary. When you visit our festival you will find no private vendors selling dinner foods. We take the food too seriously to leave it in the hands of others. We prepare everything ourselves.Ē
When Italians celebrate food becomes the focal point of the event. Mama and the girls prepare days in advance, and papa readies his homemade wine. Italians often brag about the number of courses in a holiday meal as they compare stories. Itís a lot of work, but everyone enjoys because they are together, love is around and the food is perfect. Much is the same at Festa! 2018. Here is an extended parish family; and everybody is welcome to celebrate. And here too, the food is too important to leave to outsiders to prepare. ďItís something we just donít think about," adds Balabon. ďEvery dish is made as if we are serving our own family. Thatís why our food is so good, the love comes through!Ē
Festa chefs are long on experience. For decades they have carefully prepared great meals for their own family feasts and celebrations. And since many of them have such large Italian families, cooking for a few more people at the Holy Rosary festival is, as festival chef Bob Nargi puts it, ďno big deal!Ē They arrive early in the morning to prepare that eveningís sauce, cook the porchetta, bake the lasagna, clean the calamari and make the zeppole batter.
A recent addition to the Festa menu is Lasagna al Forno (baked lasagna) is prepared under the watchful eyes of Ann and Carmen Pitney. ďOur parish ladies prepare all of the ingredients in our kitchens each dayĒ, says Ann. ďThese women are amazing cooks in their own right. But when you gather them all together for one project, itís like a local all-star cooking team.Ē
Another unique treat that takes great preparation and care is the signature dessert item of the festival, the zeppole. These are Italian style munchkins, or donut holes. But that is where the comparison ends. Bite into a zeppole and you experience a taste sensation that is out of this world! What makes a zeppole (pronounced zeí-pole-ee) so delicious? Itís all about the best ingredients. Bob and Theresa Verni, Festaís master batter makers says it begins with the best, freshest ingredients and a very special type of flour. Farm-fresh eggs, rich ricotta cheese, and an assortment of sweet spices are some of the key ingredients that make this tasty treat what it is. The flavorful batter is made fresh each day so you can enjoy a taste sensation that is simply remarkable. Buy them by the bagful with a touch of powdered sugar and enjoy a truly authentic Italian treat right from the old country to you!
So why do people enjoy the Holy Rosary festival? Itís the food, baby! Itís fresh, itís delicious and itís from the heart! Join the fun and celebrate family, food and love, the good things that are Italian.
With more than 50 years of success, the Holy Rosary Festival has earned a well deserved reputation for wholesome family fun and its great ethnic foods. Each year families enjoy special Italian treats like soffrito, calamari, and porchetta. These are foods which are not often prepared at home because they can be difficult to make, and because each succeeding generation seems to lose a little of the old country traditions. Letís take a look back at what some of the visitors of Festa have said.
Rocky from West Haven says: "I have been coming to this festival for more than 18 years. Each year I look forward to the fried calamari and a cold beer. Itís tender and delicious and the calamari is very good too!"
Grandparents Pete and Mary come each year from the Waterbury area. "My wife used to make soffrito at home, but itís a lot of work for her now", Pete says. Mary confirms this, adding that she spiced her soffrito a little differently, "But this is very good too", she added. "Itís the only time we eat it anymore".
Life-long New York City residents, Joe and Kay Smith (yes, its their real name), have been visiting the Holy Rosary festival for nearly 35 years. Joe tells us "We can go to the feast of San Gennaro in Manhattanís Little Italy, right in our own backyard. But itís so crowded no one goes there anymore." Kay adds that she likes the safe, family atmosphere at Holy Rosary, "Everyone is friendly", she says.
Biaggia Miscusi loves the sauce! She comes all the way from the Hartford area. "They do something different with it, the way they make it, I mean". She thought for a while and added, "I think they put carrots in the sauce to sweeten itÖbut Iím really not sure".
Carol and Don Nelson and their four children also enjoy the festival. "Itís a really nice way to end the summer. We bring the kids. Bracelet night for the rides is a great deal, we stay all night! Itís like a mini vacation."
At a recent yearís festival, Bob Sajakaluchek and his date Lori were caught sharing a cannoli. Lori said that they go to all the Valley festivals. "There is like, a lot of them, you know? This oneís my favorite because they really like mix up the entertainment, itís fun! Bob likes it too, she says, because "Itís a pretty cheap date" !